St. Albert's Olympians in Sochi
Olympic Winter Games underway in Russia
Saturday, Feb 08, 2014 06:00 am
What do Meaghan Mikkelson, Ken Tralnberg and Emanuel Viveiros have in common?
They are St. Albert’s Olympians at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.
Mikkelson is a defenceman for the Canadian women’s hockey team, Tralnberg is the coach for the Swiss women’s curling rink skipped by Mirjam Ott and Viveiros is head coach of the Austrian Eagles men’s hockey team.
Mikkelson, 29, was a member of Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and is looking to repeat in Russia.
“Another amazing day in Sochi. Can’t wait for the opening ceremonies tomorrow!” Mikkelson said Thursday via her Twitter handle at @Mikkelson12.
The former bantam AAA St. Albert Sabre joined the national women’s team in 2007 after helping the University of Wisconsin Badgers win consecutive NCAA championships.
Mikkelson switched from forward to defence with the Badgers and in her senior season was the Western Collegiate Hockey Association defensive player of the year and first team All-American. She also led all NCAA defencemen in scoring and was a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, presented to the NCAA’s most valuable women’s hockey player.
In 2011 Mikkelson was named the top defenceman at worlds.
Mikkelson, the first female to play rep hockey in St. Albert in 1997 with the atom AA provincial champion TD Lightning, donated $5,000 to the St. Albert Minor Hockey Association's Play Like Girls program on behalf of the RBC Foundation's Olympian Grants program two years ago.
Mikkelson was also among the inaugural 24 inductees into the City of St. Albert’s Skating Wall of Fame in 2011.
Canada plays its first game today against Switzerland.
Tralnberg, 57, is going to his third Olympics and second as a coach.
The St. Albert resident and longtime curler was the Swiss coach at the Vancouver Olympics as Ott, third Carmen Schaefer, Carmen Kueng and lead Janine Greiner finished 6-3 in the round robin, then lost the semifinal 6-5 to Cheryl Bernard of Canada and the bronze-medal game 12-6 to Wang Bingyu of China.
Ott was an Olympic silver medallist with the Luzia Ebnother rink in 2002 at Salt Lake City and as the Swiss skip in 2006 at Turin, Italy.
Tralnberg told the Gazette in November that he retired from his job as the children’s advocate with the provincial government in order to devote all his energies to coaching the Swiss to Olympic gold.
“I’m excited. I can’t wait,” he said. “We’re not scared of anybody in the world.”
At the 2002 Olympics, Tralnberg was the alternate for the Kevin Martin rink as Canada lost the gold-medal game to Pal Trulsen of Norway.
Tralnberg scouted rocks and charted opposing rinks with Martin’s coach, Jules Owchar.
Canada’s oldest Olympian in Salt Lake City at age 45 also threw two rocks for Martin in the sixth end in Canada’s 9-4 win over Finland.
The first game for the Swiss is Monday against the United States.
Viveiros, 48, is the bench boss for the first Austrian hockey team at the Olympics since 2002.
“It’s a very exciting time for hockey in Austria,” the St. Albert hockey product told the Gazette in December. “We kind of pinch ourselves every day that we have an opportunity to go there and take part in an Olympics.”
The Eagles are pooled in group B with Canada, Finland and Norway.
Viveiros, an Austrian citizen who lives in St. Albert in the off-season, was promoted to the national team’s head coach in 2011 after serving as an assistant for two years. One of his assistant coaches is Rob Daum, a former coach with the Alberta Golden Bears and the Edmonton Oilers and current bench boss for EHC Black Wings Linz in Austria.
Viveiros started coaching with KAC Klagenfurt after retiring from the team early in the 2006/07 season because of a back injury.
The former defenceman spent 17 seasons in Europe as a player, including 13 in Austria, following a 29-game NHL career with the Minnesota North Stars and several seasons with three minor pro teams.
The sixth round, 106th overall, pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1984 NHL entry draft recorded one goal, 11 assists and six penalty minutes in the NHL and in the minors split time with the Springfield Indians (66 points in 124 games) in the American Hockey League and the Kalamazoo Wings (103 points in 111 games) and Albany Choppers (10 points in 14 games) in the International Hockey League.
Viveiros also won a Memorial Cup in 1985 with the Prince Albert Raiders and was a member of Canada’s silver-medal team at the 1986 World Junior Championship in Hamilton.
Austria’s first game is Thursday against Finland. Canada is on tap Friday.
OLYMPIC NOTES: Amanda Ammar, a cross-country skier born in St. Albert who never attended school here and lists Onoway as her hometown, competes Saturday in the women’s skiathlon 7.5 kilometre classic and 7.5 km free.
Ammar, 28, represented Canada at the 2006 Olympics and placed 10th in the 4.5 km relay, 49th in sprint free and 54th in the 10 km classic.
Visit www.sochi2014.com for schedules and results for all the Olympic events.